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FOR RELEASE:   October 13, 2004
CONTACT:         Dan Gerstein
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Charter School Leadership Council Selects
Veteran Policy Expert Nelson Smith To Lead Organization

Education reform expert tapped to build organization and advance charter movement

WASHINGTON -- The Charter School Leadership Council announced today that it has chosen Nelson Smith, a nationally recognized expert on charter schools and education policy, to become the organization’s first president.

Smith comes to the CSLC, a recently formed national charter school advocacy and educational organization, with a distinguished record of leadership in building a new generation of innovative, high-performing public schools.

Smith’s experience includes senior management positions at the U.S. Department of Education, the D.C. Public Charter School Board, the New York City Partnership, and most recently at New American Schools, where he served as Vice President for Policy and Governance.

“We are thrilled to have Nelson on board to help us build our organization and realize the potential of the charter school movement to extend access to excellent public schools to all American children,” CSLC Chairman Howard Fuller said.

“With his dedication to quality schools, determination to use the charter model to help achieve equal opportunity and social justice, breadth of experience, and depth of policy understanding, Nelson is the perfect choice to give voice to the national charter movement.”

At New American Schools, a national nonprofit that promotes systemic education reform, Smith provided policy guidance to the organization and advised clients on the management and governance of public charter schools and their role in catalyzing reform in traditional systems.

Prior to joining NAS, Smith was the first Executive Director of the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board. From 1985 to 1992, he served in the Unites States Department of Education, where he oversaw numerous programs devoted to using educational research to promote school improvement.

In 2002, he was appointed by Education Secretary Rod Paige as one of 21 negotiators who developed federal regulations for the No Child Left Behind Act. He has since written numerous papers on the impact of NCLB on the charter sector, and served as chair of the Federal Policy strand of the Department of Education’s 2004 National Charter Schools Conference.

Before coming to Washington, Smith, 53, was Vice President for Education and Workforce Development at the New York City Partnership where he developed school-leadership and school-to-work programs and organized a business-led study of the governance of New York City’s 1-million student public school system.

“I am honored to have this opportunity to help lead the charter movement,” said Smith, a Georgetown University graduate and resident of the District. “Millions of American children have an urgent need for new and better options in public education. The Charter School Leadership Council will be an important force for expanding the ability of the charter movement to meet that need with quality and accountability.”

The mission of the CSLC is to advance America’s charter school movement by providing leadership on national and state policy, promoting best practices among charter schools, authorizers, and policymakers, and supporting and coordinating the activities of state associations, resource centers, and other organizations active in the charter movement.

As President, Smith will be responsible for developing and overseeing the organization’s start-up and initial agenda of activities as well as providing day-to-day management and long-term leadership for the organization.

Among the highest priorities for CSLC are increasing public understanding and support for charter schools; developing, disseminating, and advocating for charter-friendly policies at the state and federal level; expanding outreach to established charter organizations, other education reform organizations, and new audiences; identifying key states and communities for focused activity; and working with state associations and resource centers to improve political and policy environments.